University of Wyoming welcomes new president
Laramie – Robert Sternberg took office July 1 as the 24th president of the University of Wyoming, succeeding retiring president Tom Buchanan. Sternberg was offered the contract by a unanimous vote by the UW Board of Trustees.
The first in his family to attend college, Sternberg studied at Yale on a National Merit scholarship and graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He received his doctorate in psychology from Stanford University in 1975.
Later, he returned to Yale and served in various capacities for 30 years before accepting a job at Tufts University in 2005. He left in 2010 to serve as provost of Oklahoma State University (OSU) before accepting the role of president at UW.
“The great thing about land grant universities, like OSU and UW, is that the students do not come here with a sense of entitlement,” says Sternberg. “They come with a strong sense of ethical leadership and service. They want to give back to the state and not just do what is best for them.”
Land grant mission
“When I was at OSU, I was excited about the land grant mission – we were there to serve the state. That is my view of a land grant university as well,” says the new university president. “We want to create a positive, meaningful and enduring difference in the world.”
Sternberg plans to continue making this difference through serving the state’s agriculturalists with Extension educators and by educating students.
“I see land grant institutions as very different from the ones that I have attended,” he explains. “Our goal here at UW is not to be number one in the college reports by being selective of SAT and ACT scores. I think abilities are much broader than what standardized tests and high school GPAs can measure.”
“That is why if potential students have the basic background to succeed, we want them here to help them develop into a leader,” Sternberg continues. “The more students we educate here, the better we fulfill our mission as a land grant university.”
College of Agriculture
The new president says that he does not have a definitive vision laid out for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources but looks forward to working with students, educators and residents to move UW forward.
“As a president, it is not a great idea to come in on day two with a vision for the college. The vision should come from the dean, Extension agents and the residents of the state,” he explains. “I am more interested in speaking with them and learning from them rather than imposing my ideas on them because I do not come from an agricultural background.”
“My background is in psychology, but the people in the College of Agriculture of OSU attest to how supportive I have been in the college and that is how I plan to be here,” he says. “That is one of the reasons that I am excited about being here.”
“We are here to educate the future ranchers and farmers. This is an important part in the mission of agriculture,” he continues. “We also help producers optimize their businesses through Extension education. These are two things that we have been doing well but the specifics for a vision need to come from the residents of the state.”
He also says that he is looking forward to interacting with the students of the College of Agriculture.
“I can’t say that I have met students here in any great number, but my ag students at OSU were well-trained in ethical leadership and communication skills, especially those that were in 4-H and FFA. I expect the UW students to be very similar,” says the president.
Traveling the state
Sternberg and his family are enthusiastic about living in the Cowboy State. He and his wife Karin are the proud parents of two-year-old triplets Samuel, Brittany and Melody.
“For my wife and I, living in Wyoming is like coming home. This is where we want to raise our kids so they know what it is to work hard,” he says proudly.
Although he has already put on many miles traveling the expansive state, Sternberg says that he plans to continue traveling and meeting with producers. He also encourages correspondence from them.
“I would love to hear from producers and residents from around the state and, if they want to write me, I would enjoy hearing any suggestions, advice or questions that they have for me,” he encourages. “I also answer every single one of my emails personally.”